Mashable recently pointed to statistics showing nearly 3 in 4 UAE residents owns a smartphone, making it the highest penetration rate in the world, followed closely by Saudi Arabia in third at 72.8%. The data, pulled from Google’s Our Mobile Planet, varies slightly from other published reports. But no matter the data set, the trend of growing smartphone popularity in the Middle East is well-established and hard to ignore.
This Ramadan I was honored to be part of an enthusiastic charity team who dedicated several days a week to a number of charitable projects. While collecting money and distributing meals and clothing were the main objectives, we were lucky enough to spend some time with some families of the families that the project aimed to help, making me realize that giving supersedes monetary value.
The search for families and individuals in need started three months before Ramadan. We spoke to labour camp managers, friends and residents, and scouted humble locations in the UAE to find people living in challenging conditions, such as the fishermen on the Creek Side.
When it came to collecting contributions and identifying volunteers, we were blessed with the generosity of many individuals and organizations, including a number of colleagues at Edelman, generating approximately AED 40,000.
Using these funds, volunteers donated their time and effort to buy food and clothing items, and sort, pack and distribute them to families. We had an average of 14 volunteers on a weekly basis throughout Ramadan, and their generosity was vital to our success.
In total, we distributed:
- 200 bags of 17 essential food items for families
- 2,800 bags of five essential food elements for fishermen
- 835 bags including several clothing items such as jeans, t-shirts, shirts and shoes for fishermen
Thank you all for your generosity and donations. This was a truly rewarding experience and we couldn’t have been more blessed.
YouTube to open its creative studio space in NYC in 2014
Google announced this week that it will be opening up their fourth YouTube creative studio space in New York City in October 2014.
For those that aren’t familiar, YouTube’s creative studio is a place where anyone enrolled in its Partner Program can go and hone their skills and gain access to resources needed to help enhance their video’s production value.
YouTube’s new space will be located in the Chelsea Marketplace district and will span about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet. It will have workshops and events just like in Los Angeles and will most likely have sound stages where creators can experiment with sets, props, green screens, and more.
Speaking at the 2013 VidCon conference, YouTube’s Vice President and Global Head of Content Operations Tom Pickett and Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Tiedt, revealed that the video service now has 325 channels with more than 1 million subscribers. Its mobile apps have now been downloaded over 250 million times — currently 40 percent of all hours viewed on YouTube in the US come through mobile devices.
These figures appear to highlight the belief that YouTube needs to evolve their product to the next step and this includes improving video quality starting at the source: the creators. Their efforts to work with video creators include the Creator Academy, which was launched in May. The company says that 40,000 people have enrolled to learn how to use YouTube.
The first official Twitter-Hotel!
For all the Tweetaholics who can’t quite ‘unplug’ even while on vacation, here’s your dream place – @SolWaveHouse.
Located in Majorca, Spain, this “Twitter Hotel” (as it has been dubbed) will make tweeple feel right at home with Twitter-themed parties, hashtag liquorice and signature drinks like a blue mojito. Guests will feel as though they’re cruising through a live twitter window with the hotel decked out in the trademark white and blue colour scheme, communicating with hotel staff via hashtags! For example, if you’re running low on food from the mini fridge, no more awkward conversations – just tweet #FillMyFridge and the concierge takes care of it.
Picture credits: MELIA HOTELS INTERNATIONAL
Hotel visitors can also communicate with one another by logging on to Twitter via a special web app available only through the hotel’s wifi. Once in, they can use the #SocialWave hashtag and share pictures, send private messages, see who’s online, and send virtual kisses. Marco Fantón, Sol Wave House’s social media director told TIME that he sees the community as a “fun d interactive extension of what guests are already doing on their trip using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.”
Picture credits: MELIA HOTELS INTERNATIONAL
Unlike the website, use of the hotel is not just restricted to Twitter users – there are neutrally decorated accommodations, bars and dining venues, and outdoor swimming pools overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Twitter and TV ratings: a symbiotic relationship
Nielsen, the information and global measurement company, released findings on Tuesday that shed light on the recently budding relationship between TV viewership and Twitter.
The company’s independent Twitter Causation Study analysed whether Twitter conversation boosted viewership, or broadcast tune-in led to increased tweeting. The study revealed that live TV ratings had a statistically significant impact in related tweets, and the volume of tweets similarly caused changes in live TV ratings.
Picture credits: NIELSEN
This solidifies Twitter’s position as the world’s pre-eminent real-time social communicator, with Twitter’s COO Ali Rowghani stating that Twitter “is a complementary tool for broadcasters to engage their audience, drive conversation about their programming and increase tune-in”.
The next-gen earphones
The long-standing battle between earbuds and headphones won’t be waning any time soon, especially with a new competitor throwing its hat in the ring.
Earbuds are compact and easy to carry, while headphones are touted for their superior quality and damage control. The third option is a next-gen earpiece: a wireless headset without speakers.
Kickstarter project Sound Band uses surface sound technology to send tiny vibrations through the backs of your ears, bones and tissues to land on your inner ear without blocking your ear canals. (All the talk of bacteria buildup within your ear multiplying every second can also be redundant!)
This device can also connect via bluetooth for phone calls, and lasts for about five hours with an impressive range of sound that spans from 20,000 Hz to 86 Hz.
The biggest news this week is undoubtedly the merger of the world’s second-largest advertising company, Omnicom, and the third-largest, Publicis, together forming the world’s largest ad-holding company valued at $35 billion.
This move puts the company above London’s WPP, with existing Omnicom CEO John Wren and Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy serving as co-CEOs of the new Publicis Omnicom Group that consists of a combined 130,000 employees and together generated a total of $23 billion last year.
Picture credits: AP
This move brings together renowned agencies such as BBDO, Leo Burnett, Ketchum, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA and Goodby Silverstein, hoping to deliver “the most comprehensive offering of analog and digital services,” as said by Levy.
This also means advertising rivals such as PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. now share the same firm, shedding light on the possible conflicts of interest that come with a consolidated market. As with other firm mergers, advertisers will have to rely on “Chinese walls” to keep campaign secrets.
Earlier reports that the two firms were in talks to merge were confirmed by a press conference held in Paris at 2 p.m. on Sunday, 28th July, followed by one in New York on Monday 29th July.
Zayed Humanitarian Day
In honour of Zayed Humanitarian Day on Sunday, many showed their support for Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan on Twitter, making the hashtag #Zayed the number one trend in UAE for the day.
Sunday, which was the 19th of Ramadan, is now known as the founding father’s death anniversary according to the Hijri calendar. Numerous tweets with pictures were posted by those who remembered (as he was affectionately known) “Baba” Zayed’s best teachings and influences.
Twitter bomb threats
Plenty of accusatory fingers currently point at Twitter after bomb and rape threats were made to journalists and an MP in London. It all began when Caroline Criado-Perez, journalist and feminist blogger who successfully campaigned for Jane Austen to become the new face of the £ 10 note, was subjected to a series of rape threats on Twitter.
After Labour MP Stella Creasy expressed outrage about the situation, she too received rape threats from anonymous twitter users. Following this, newest updates of women journalists receiving bomb threats have been reported, launching an investigation into the threats, which constitute arrestable offences.
An online petition calling on Twitter to add an ‘abuse’ button to report such cases has been making its rounds around the social media circuit, gaining over 100,000 signatures. Read more about this petition here.
Haute on social
Oscar de la Renta was “haute” on Social Media this week, with a bold move to use popular Instagram to release its fall ad campaign, which typically features on magazines like Vogue and Elle. The images were released on the oscarprgirl Instagram account, run by Erica Bearman, senior VP of Global Communications at Oscar de la Renta.
They have each been liked over 2,100 times and posted on Oscar de la Renta’s other social media accounts. The company also incorporated an e-commerce component, launching online presale for the collection with the Instagram photos.
(PICTURE CREDIT: oscarprgirl @Instagram)
Picture credits: @Official_SEA12
Famous internet meme “grumpy cat” will now hit store shelves with a new branded Grumppuccino. While trending memes have been used to p
romote products, there hasn’t been much success with products based on memes. Nothing like a cup of coffee and some empathy from Her Grumpiness to start the day, right? Have a great weekend!
ArabNet’s signature event, the ArabNet Digital Summit, was held in Dubai this year and had brought together over 100 speakers and 900 attendees in the 3 day conference (June 24-26). An arena where digital professionals and entrepreneurs in the MENA region gathered, the event took place in one of Dubai’s highlighted attractions, the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai’s Palm Island.
The MENA region is one of the fastest growing regions in the digital sector, and the summit didn’t fail to transmit the development and future of the digital industry in the region. Keynote speakers focused on the growing sector of smartphones, the increased role social media plays in the relationship between brands and consumers, and new ways of purchasing products online with e-commerce focused discussions.
Within each day, the summit focused on various factors in the digital business industry:
Day 1 of the event focused on a “Startup Track” where entrepreneurs had the chance to meet investors and possibly create the next big thing.
Day 2 continued with an “Industry Track” that focused on digital opportunities in diverse sectors such as education and banking.
Day 3, held a “Developer Tournament Championship”, where the audience was introduced to the experience competitors from the MENA region had and where they got to show off their coding skills.
Between 24th – 27th of June there were 3,469 Twitter mentions about ArabNet Digital Summit 2013 in the UAE, those mentions received an estimated 6.2 million Impressions. Below are some of the topics discussed during the Summit as seen on Twitter:
3- @nagham: ‘No one likes ads’. Not true; no one likes *crap* ads. Marketers, get your sh*t together & give ppl something worth watching. #ArabnetME (8 RT)
4- @lindseymcd: LinkedIn has over 5 million members in the MENA region. UAE is the biggest regional market with 1 million member’s #ArabNetME (7 RT)
Top Influencers Discussing #ArabNetME:
@Lara (149,984 followers)
@emkwan (33,120 followers)
@DanaAbulaban (11,502 followers)
@DubaiWriter (10,144 follower)
@Kuzbari (3,021 followers)
Key Topics of Twitter Conversation:
E-Commerce: Attendees discussed and shared how online sales are growing rapidly in the MENA region & also discussed stats on how Users are becoming increasingly comfortable buying over the Internet.
Social Media: Panels discussed how social media is a vital part of every brand’s online strategy and discussed social media advertising, research, stats & study cases.
Media & Advertising: Digital has changed the way users consume and interact with media and advertising.
Mobile: Conversations centered on smartphone penetration and usage in the Middle East, and especially the GCC countries & how mobiles and tablets increasingly become the primary point of connection to the internet.
Recruitment: Conversations discussed the improvement and impact online recruitment have achieved.
Edelman Community Investment Grant rewards United World College of the Adriatic (UWC Adriatic)
By Mario Sgarrella
“How can there be peace in the world if we don’t understand each other, and how can we understand each other if we don’t know each other.” I could stop the blog here. There is so much wisdom in this simple sentence, pronounced in 1957 by Lester D. Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, which summarizes the entire philosophy of the United World Colleges (UWC) movement.
United World Colleges (UWC) is the only global educational movement which brings together students from all over the world at pre-university level, regardless of their ability to pay. Students are selected on merit and live together in an environment designed to foster international understanding, tolerance and peace. Today, there are twelve UWCs in the Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Costa Rica, China, India, Italy, the Netherlands Norway Singapore, Swaziland, UK and USA. This movement exponentially impacts the lives of 75,000 students every year.
Thanks to an Italian government-sponsored full scholarship, I was lucky enough to attend the United World College of the Adriatic (UWC Adriatic), between 2002 and 2004.
Imagine coming from a small provincial town of southern Italy and studying and living with peers from 85 different countries, from various socioeconomic backgrounds. My first roommate was a Bosnian student who suffered through the Yugoslavian war a few years before. I got to see the 2003 war in Iraq, through the eyes of Iraqis and American students; I got to understand the Israeli-Palestinian wars through the stories of Israeli and Palestinian students; I got to appreciate the differences within the Arab world and within the African continent, that before was only a monolithic block of stereotypes. There is nothing more mind-opening and challenging.
This short lipdub, that the students of this year made, shows the touching multicultural atmosphere you can breathe at UWC Adriatic.
A crucial part of the UWC educational model is volunteering. As an alumnus, I have continued to contribute to the UWC movement and today Edelman, with its Community Investment Grant, has decided to reward our efforts. Here are a few recent examples:
- In 2011, I brought my photo exhibition on Israel & Palestine to the UWCAD to bring together Israeli and Palestinian students along with their sponsor, to share their experiences.
- Once a year, I participate to the Italian regional selections, where we assign scholarships to a select number of students and invite them to join one of the United World Colleges.
- Every year, I go back to the College and join the “Service Orienteering Week” at the beginning of the year to share my experiences with volunteering at UWC including, visiting homes for the elderly, arranging afternoon activities for children from a cultural minority background and offering support to socially disadvantaged students.
Edelman has created the Community Investment Grant to support various communities in a special way. It recognizes the employees who spend time volunteering by awarding a grant of up to $2,500 to the organization they volunteer for. This year, UWC Adriatic was among the successful applicants.
Edelman’s Grant to UWC Adriatic will be used towards the UWC Adriatic’s Community Service Program which includes afternoon activities, which are part of the curriculum, where all students support underprivileged community members. Through the support, the volunteers engage in multicultural presentations and conflict transformation workshops to local primary schools aimed at fighting prejudice and racism, assist persons with mental or physical disabilities, offer companionship to elderly people, volunteer for the local Red Cross Ambulance Service and much more.
I firmly believe in the values that inspire the UWC movement. Edelman’s Community Grant is a reward to these values and educational model where students become active, involved and educated citizens, whose attitudes towards multicultural understanding and commitment to the community are a powerful catalyst for change.
“The striking feature of the United World Colleges is that they embrace the entire world across all divides of race, history, culture, wealth, religion, economic status and political belief: they are unique.”
Nelson Mandela, United World Colleges Honorary President
The adventures of Robby Corrado & Tristan Hills-Bos
Like Don Quixote, we left for Barcelona to reignite the chivalric ideal, whilst eat as much tapas our appetites could stomach, dance as much salsa our feet could bear, and pick up an award that we think had something to do with us approaching PR in the right way within the Middle East…
- – After 15months of managing PR activity across the Middle East, I’d be lying if I claimed this to be the most arduous task set by our Edelman leadership – -
However, unlike the unobtainable romantic idealism of Don Quixote’s quest, what ensured was an appreciation of the profound reality of kinship held under the global roof of Edelman. We were the fortunate few to celebrate in the tangible proof of the company’s success, but most importantly we did it with a diverse group of nationalities from a range of different Edelman offices. Individuals who, whether from Holland, Poland, Turkey, Italy, or the UK, grapple with the same trials and tribulations we do, witness the same opportunities and successes we do, and express their creativity within the same unique Edelman culture, no matter how diverse our markets are or how complex the subject of PR is.
As has always been one of Edelman’s valued assets, the brilliance of our Edel-family—the collective of individuals, who work, laugh, and push the boundaries of comms together—was on full display last week in Barcelona.
Quite an apt realization during an event that saw our team collect the award for ‘Best Pan-European Agency to Work For.’
The SABRE Awards are acknowledged as one of the world’s most sought after public relations awards ceremonies. The awards recognize Superior Achievement in Branding and Reputation in North America, EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region; and as Justin paraphrases: are ‘the Oscars of the EMEA PR industry.’ In other words, Robby and I were rubbing shoulders with the Brad Pitts and Meryl Streeps of the PR world. The one major and enjoyable difference being that THERE WERE NO ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES! instead, the microphone was strategically taped to the host, Paul Holmes’ face, not even allowing for a rogue Kanye West “I’m going to let you finish” moment.
In total we managed to win 7 awards that included two agency awards – Middle East Agency of the Year 2013 and Best Pan-European Agency to Work For, two Gold SABRE Awards – Consumer Marketing: New Product for ‘Experience: Halo for Halo 4’ (Xbox) and Pharmaceutical: RX for ‘Melanoma: A Matter of Time’ (Roche Italy), and three Silver SABRE Awards – Special Event for ‘Experience: Halo for Halo 4’ (Xbox), PR Agency Website for Edelman Editions, and Media Placement: Digital for ‘Support the Dream’ U.S. Olympic Program (Hilton HHonours). The Halo 4 campaign for Xbox was also shortlisted in the Platinum Award category for the best public relations campaign of the year in the EMEA region. This category cannot be entered into, but the judges select 5 of the best campaigns entered into the SABREs.
Although Robby and I got to enjoy the celebrations and soak in the collective excitement of the awards ceremony, I hope that everyone within our office takes a moment to appreciate its significance. The trophy tangibly captures your sweat and tears, in its finely sculptured silver curves. It is physical proof of the creativity and professionalism that you deliver on a day-to-day basis. Awards, particularly the SABRE Awards, are not merely a glamorous, sugar-coating of the work we do, but a validation of the work we do and how we do it; a validation provided by the leading analysts of our industry. So appreciate it, enjoy it and celebrate the hard work you put in, because we’re doing something right!
With the emphasis of this year’s SABRE Awards think-tank on story-telling, in particular the ‘operationability’ (if Shakespeare created words, why can’t I) of story-telling and the challenge of developing an elevator pitch or action idea summarizing one’s story arc, I leave you with a story arc that although not quite as emotive as Hemmingway’s – ‘For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn’ – manages to capture my experience:
‘EdelmanUAE specimen finds global family at PR-Oscars.’
PS: Filling in the gaps, Robby and I did manage to satisfy our appetites both with the amount of tapas we ate and the amount of moves cut on the dance floor. Mission accomplished.
3D doll yourself !
Kick starting TWTW in a disturbing manner, a Japanese toy company called Clone Factory this week announced that people’s faces can now be printed toys! Yes, scary, but true.
Basically the person has to sit in a chair surrounded by SLR cameras and have their picture taken in a sequence. Then a digital map of the subject’s head is extracted and printed into plaster.
Read more here
Youtube turns eight!
So we all know Youtube; it was launched in 2005 and this year marks its 8th year! Still kicking around,more than 1 billion unique users visit the website on monthly basis, over 4 billion hours are watched each month and back in 2011 the website had more than 1 trillion views.
And to celebrate the 8th year anniversary they have asked The Gregory Brothers to sum up the “history” of YouTube for the past eight years in a brief exciting video.
Tweet to record
When Twitter becomes the main source for viewers to consume TV shows instead of the company’s website, it calls for extreme measures on the TV operators behalf.
Television operator Sky Brazil came up with a new plan to make use of Twitter to gain viewers and display a perfect service that they can benefit from while spending their time on the platform. By getting customers to register their Twitter name on the Sky website, the site delivers Tweets to followers to inform them of what is showing on TV. Followers then simply need to reply with #SKYREC to record the episode!
Read more here.
Flickr: New design and enhanced quality
Flickr has been redesigned. With a tidy, fresh new look, , the web giant Yahoo announced that Flickr will now offer users a 1 TB of free storage. In other words, users can upload up to exactly 499,321 photos with 7.0 megapixels resolution.
The new features are superb; a redesigned user-interface, new activity feed, an android application, 200MB limit on the size of each photo and a three minute cap on playback videos.
Read more here.
I would like to update you on a number of exciting new developments from Edelman.
In a snapshot;
- We are going to Africa
- We won another award
- We have got some fantastic new leaders and talent in the region
- And, I am saying goodbye
Firstly, I would like to thank you all for your continued partnership and support over the last 4 years. We will celebrate our 5 year anniversary in the UAE this October, and look forward to inviting you all to help us celebrate this achievement.
We are extremely pleased to announce that we have now opened Edelman South Africa. We recently acquired Bairds Renaissance, our South African affiliate for 20 years. This is an important milestone and marks our first office on the African continent. We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Tod Donhauser, currently EVP and head of the technology policy group in Washington, D.C. as Managing Director of Edelman South Africa. He will be relocating shortly to Johannesburg and will report to Robert Holdheim, CEO of Edelman South Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Over the past year an increasing number of clients have approached us about our capabilities on the African continent. Business globally recognizes the opportunities presented across the board, from infrastructure projects to an emerging consumer population. Edelman is now positioned to both support our clients as well as participate in the growth of this important region.
Our own office builds on our existing network of 24 affiliates and partners across the Middle East and Africa, enabling us to provide services to our clients in most parts of the region.
Later this month
We will be attending the Sabre Awards ceremony in Barcelona. We have been awarded the Middle East consultancy of the year. On behalf of the team, we would like to thank you all for helping us achieve this. Our trophy cabinet is looking okay at the moment, and this award will sit nicely alongside our Middle East PR Association Agency of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2011.
As of May 1
Jane Fields has joined as General Manager, Edelman UAE. As a corporate communications professional, Jane has over 18 years of experience across multiple sectors including Financial Services, Corporate, B2B Media, New Media and Technology.
After five years of leading and building her first start-up, Jane moved into the world of Media and Technology. She first joined the board at United Business Media (CMPi) leading the people agenda followed by Skype Technologies. In 2011 Jane co-founded her second start-up Oxbow Media specializing in delivering multimedia communications strategies, including digital, online media and large-scale events. She has also worked for Ernst and Young in a senior consultancy role.
Jane can be contacted at [email protected] and on +971 50 811 3669
From July 1
Edelman will be reorganising our global structure and Middle East and Africa will move under the leadership of David Brain into a new region called Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa (APACMEA). Increasingly our clients are structuring themselves against growth opportunities prompted by ever increasing trade flows between Africa, the Middle East and Asia. We are looking to capitalize on this trend by organizing ourselves in a similar fashion. Our clients are demanding both excellence in market understanding and execution as well as deep industry and specialist knowledge. The Middle East and Africa will join South Asia and become a sub region known as South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMEA).
This region will be led by Rob Holdheim, CEO, SAMEA. Rob is currently Managing Director of our Indian business, and has been with Edelman in four markets on three continents over ten years. Rob studied Middle Eastern politics and economics, including Arabic language, in graduate school.
Rob can be contacted at [email protected] and on +91 9717100588
The SAMEA region now includes 14 Edelman offices with close to 400 staff, as well as 33 affiliates and partners. We are able to provide support in the areas of content development and dissemination, media relations, public affairs, digital communications, employee engagement, crisis and issues management, corporate social responsibility, research, experiential marketing and integrated brand engagement.
From May 16
I will be saying goodbye to the Middle East and Africa. After 8 years living in Oman and Syria as a child, and 7 years working across the Middle East and Africa it is time to move on. I will be taking up a new role as CEO of Edelman South East Asia and Australasia from July 1. I will continue to work on a number of projects and given trade flows and client needs, I hope that we will be able to help you in the region.
Edelman has offices in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, and a network of partners and affiliates across the wider region.
I would like to thank you all for all of your support, partnership and friendship over these last few years. It has been a true honor to have worked with you, and learn so much. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line when you are travelling through the region.
My email ([email protected]) will remain the same, and until July 1 I can be contacted on +971 50 1095 770.
I wish you and your families a prosperous, happy and healthy future, and please stay in contact.